Spa days are life. Really. Life. I don’t know how I made it through so many years in my life before I started taking the time to take care of my body and mind. The relaxation that I feel after a spa retreat is a given, but the freshness, the renewed energy, the appreciation for life in general are the real bonus to taking care of yourself.
Living in the Deep South in the United States is spectacular, there is no place that I would rather be. The sheer vastness of the rural South, brings both pleasure, and downfalls. Small rural towns cannot support big fancy spas, and the large towns that can support them are few and far between. What this means, is that when you are ready to have a spa experience, you also have to be ready to travel a little. (What a bonus, right?) Unless you live in one of the larger cities, of course.
My list is not all-inclusive, and if you know of a spa that I should check out, just let me know, I am always happy to add to my list of places to unwind!
This list includes the TOP
10 11 spa experiences that I have had, and I am going to count them down from number 10 (then add the Bonus Spa, as number 11) , to my very best experience at number 1. All were good experiences, or they would not have made my list, so being number 10 (or 11) is in no way a bad thing. In fact, there were some ties, and a lot of difficulty in numbering the list, but number 1 was the clear winner, and I can’t wait to go back.
So, without further ado…here we go!
10 11 Spas in the Deep South
- 10 ~ Paris Parker Aveda Salon & Spa, Perkins Rowe, Baton Rouge, LA
- 9 ~ The Woodhouse Day Spa, Canal Street, New Orleans, LA
- 8 ~ Surfside Spa, Miramar Beach, Destin, FL
- 7 ~ Scarborough’s Salon & Day Spa, Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA
- 6 ~ The Wellness Center & Spa at Get Healthy, Historic District, DeRidder, LA
- 5 ~ Quapaw Baths, Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs, AR
- 4 ~ Buckstaff Baths, Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs, AR
- 3 ~ The Woodlands Resort & Spa, Millbend Drive, The Woodlands, TX (Houston)
- 2 ~ La Toretta Lake Resort & Spa, La Torretta Blvd, Montgomery, TX (Conroe)
- 1 ~ Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Lost Pines, TX (Bastrop/Austin)
- Bonus (#11) ~ Spa Blu at Sam’s Town Casino ~ Shreveport, LA
#10 ~ Paris Parker Aveda Salon & Spa ~ Baton Rouge, LA #10
I hated to have to put Paris Parker at number 10, it was such a great experience, but someplace had to start off the list.
Our annual girl’s trip with our staff was topped off by spending a day at the Paris Parker spa. We had a great time, and some great food in Baton Rouge, but our spa experience was like the cherry on top of an all-together awesome trip.
There were 5 of us on this trip, Candi, Kayla, Mandi, Lisa, & myself. We stayed at the Residence Inn, Towne Center at Cedar Lodge, near Whole Foods, and the Aveda spa was just a couple of blocks away. Easy to find, large parking lot, very welcoming atmosphere.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the hostess, given intake forms for our services, and ushered into their plush waiting area. The entrance had a busy salon and bright atmosphere, but as soon as we entered the spa door, the lighting dimmed, the salon area chatter was silenced, soft spa music filled the halls, and we felt that we had indeed entered a special place.
The waiting area was very cozy and well stocked with lemon infused water, nuts, robes, lockers, and a dressing area for after your services. There were thick, comfortably upholstered chairs in neutral colors, and a water feature on the wall that added to the ambiance.
Within a matter of minutes, we had settled in, and our therapists started coming for us, one-by-one, and leading us down the other hallways to our respective rooms. Everyone had ordered different services, scrubs, massages, wraps, facials, and manicures/pedicures. Everyone raved after their services, but I can only share my personal experience.
I had a Swedish relaxation massage, a sea salt scrub with immersion into a steam tent, and a facial.
Much to my surprise, my scrub was done first (I worried that the salt would rub my skin raw when I received the massage after, but it did not.) The steam tent was hanging from the ceiling, out of the way, while the scrub took place. I was instructed to lay on the table, and covered with towels for modesty. My therapist warmed the oily salt mixture, and applied it slowly and methodically over my extremities, then had me turn over and did my back. It was very relaxing, and not rough at all. She had plenty of wet, warm towels and removed the salt from each area as she completed the scrub. The scrub portion lasted about 30 minutes and left my skin feeling the softest that it has ever felt.
The therapist then lowered the tent, which attached to the massage table, and placed it over my body, filling in the gaps around my neck with rolled up hand towels, so that steam would not exit by my face. She then turned on a steam generator, attached it to the steam tent, and left me to relax for about 20 minutes. The steam was warm and soothing, and I could feel it opening my pores for my body to release toxins through my sweat. It was awkward at first, but I relaxed into it, and enjoyed knowing that I was doing something very healthy for my body.
The therapist returned, and removed the tent, instructing me to put on my robe, and she would lead me to my lunch. They had ordered fancy chicken salad croissants and juice from a nearby restaurant. I was seated outside in a private area on a patio surrounded by trees and greenery. It was such a pleasant experience. I wished the other girls had been there to have lunch at the same time. After about 15 minutes, my massage therapist came out to lead me to my massage room.
My massage was in a large corner room, and I had chosen hot stones, and the therapist offered an aromatherapy add on at no charge. Of course, I accepted! The room filled with the scent of lavender and eucalyptus, my favorites, as the therapist prepared the table with the hot stones, making sure she had everything ready that she was going to need to complete the massage. for the next 50 minutes, I felt completely relaxed and pampered. My time was up before I was ready! My therapist left the room, advising me to once again don my robe, and my esthetician would be there shortly to lead me to the facial room.
When I exited, the facial room was the next room o n the right, and I could see Kayla at the end of the hall receiving her pedicure. We smiled and waved. I never saw or heard anyone else until our services were over and we met back in the dressing area.
This was my first facial experience, and the best facial that I have ever had. I was shocked that the facial was even more relaxing than a massage. The esthetician was so gentle and caring, it felt as if she really both knew and loved what she was doing. She used a very soft touch as she applied products selected specifically for my skin type, and used a steamer to help the lotions and potions to penetrate my skin. There was nothing rough, even though she used an exfoliant. I do not believe I have ever been made to feel as cared for as a person, since being a child with my mother. She was really spectacular. After 50 minutes (that felt like 30, I wanted to stay another hour!) my services were complete.
I highly recommend the Paris Parker Aveda Spa if you are in the Baton Rouge area! (Especially for a facial!!)
#9 ~ The Woodhouse Day Spa ~ New Orleans, LA
While on a business trip to a food show at the Convention Center in New Orleans, my daughters, Mandi, Candi and I decided to stay over a couple of extra days to enjoy the city. There is only so much walking through the French Quarter you can do before you are ready for a spa day, right? (We stayed at the Hampton Inn, downtown, French Quarter. Perfect walking distance to Canal St, safe area, nice, clean hotel. To read more about this trip, click here.)
We scheduled appointments at The Woodhouse Day Spa, based on the chain’s national reputation, and on the ease of getting to the Canal Street location by Street Car, and back to our hotel without any type of traffic hassles.
We had no idea how long it would take to get to the spa from our hotel, so we left about an hour early, and arrived about 15 minutes later with 45 minutes to burn. There was a little Mexican joint located right behind the Woodhouse parking lot, so we stepped in for some chips and dip and a tiny (hehe) margarita. We were feeling very relaxed when we headed to check in at the front desk 30 minutes later.
The check in was at a small desk in the retail area, just past the entrance, and after a quick rearrangement due to a mix-up with a bridal party that arrived just before us (they were apparently late) , we were brought back to the waiting area. They partitioned it off into two areas, so that the bridal party (very loud, but we did not mind, congratulations to the bride!) could have an area to themselves, and there would still be a seating area for us. There were nice upholstered chairs, magazines, and lemon water and teas for us to enjoy as we waited. Two therapists actually swooped Mandi and Candi out pretty quickly, and my wait was about an hour. Again, it was peaceful and quiet, and very stress relieving.
The girls got massages and facials, and I had a body scrub, Vichy shower, and Swedish massage. This was my first Vichy shower, and it was not what I expected, but it was still a relaxing experience, and one that I will try again elsewhere, if given the opportunity. (I LOVE water!) My therapist scrubbed me down with a salt and oil combination with a wash cloth, then sprayed me down with a hose that sprayed perfectly warm water. I was covered with wet towels for modesty, and they got a little cold while I was left to rest on the table, but not uncomfortably so. About 15 minutes later, she returned to bring me to the massage room.
The massage table was ergonomic and comfortable with a nice warm blanket, and I was cozied up in no time. I have to say that I am very sensitive, and cannot take much pressure, and am always sure to explain this to the therapists before any massage session. I do know, however, that when you have knots or issues, sometimes it takes deep tissue to bring therapeutic value. sometimes I am there for therapeutic reason, sometimes to relax. This trip was intended to be relaxing, but I received the deepest tissue massage that I think I have ever received. The therapist was talented, did a great job, and the benefits lasted for weeks, but I would have preferred a relaxation massage. All-in-all, though, the Woodhouse was a very nice place, and we were just there at an inopportune time, at no fault of their own.
When I got back to the waiting area, both girls were there waiting, and dressed already. They had been done for about 45 minutes, but enjoyed the relaxation time as much as I had. Their massages and facials were perfect and they enjoyed a stellar experience.
The location of the Woodhouse is perfect, the facility is very nice, and we had a good afternoon, and we will go back if we ever have an extra day in new Orleans.
#8 ~ Surfside Spa ~ Miramar Beach, Destin, FL
We were in Destin for a week, grandkids in tow, so we had to schedule our much-desired spa day carefully. I researched for weeks, trying to find the right spa that could get us all in either back-to-back, 2 then 1, or who had a child care program. Not being familiar with Destin (man, that is a LONG town!) I was not sure what was closest to our hotel (Residence Inn, Baytowne area). There were a couple of closer spas, but not had the kind of availability that we needed. Then, The Surfside Spa came to our rescue! They were very friendly and accommodating, and were able to get us in for facials and massages the next day. Two of us before lunch (I was to stay behind with the kids) and one (me) after. Perfect plan.
The Surfside Spa is located directly across the street from the famous Miramar Beach, but they offered parking and/or drop off service at the entry. It is located upstairs in an older condominium property. I hate to say older, it was not run down, but it was obvious that sandy residents entered at all hours, and it had that “across from the beach” smell that some places get. I honestly don’t think that a housekeeper could stand there all day, sweeping and mopping and spraying Febreeze could keep up with it. It was a popular place. Location. Location. Location.
Candi woke up not feeling well, so I actually ended up going for the first round with Mandi, and Candi picked us back up after, returned us to the hotel, and drove herself back. It was only maybe 5 miles, but it was a 45 minute drive due to traffic and road construction…and well…she saw an accident and pulled over to be a witness for the police and the person who was hit, and it took an extra 45 minutes…but I digress…we finally made it up the stairs and found the spa, we actually got there before the therapists did, but we were greeted kindly, and provided with a glass of champagne and some chocolates to enjoy as we completed our intake forms.
Mandi went back first, and there was some confusion, since another couple had booked a couples massage, and we were put in the wrong rooms, but it was fixed quickly, and we were in for our services quickly. Mandi’s same therapist did both her facial and massage, but my therapists switched out after an hour. My room was directly behind reception, and was a little noisy, but Mandi never heard anything at all in the next room. She said it was the most relaxing experience that she had ever had in her life. Pure bliss. I had a very relaxing massage, and a very effective facial. Candi was not given champagne or chocolates during her visit, but she said her massage was good and her facial was fabulous.
Based on their willingness to work with our schedules, their location, their friendliness, and their availability of services, I would definitely recommend Surfside. When on a family or multi-generational trip, I do believe it is just as important to fit in activities that the adults will enjoy, as it is to find fun activities for the kids. Surfside made that easy for us in Destin, and we are thankful! (We stayed at the Residence Inn by Baytowne, also perfect. See a post about that trip here.)
# 7 ~ Scarborough’s Salon and Day Spa ~ Lake Charles, LA
Scarborough’s has been around Charles area. I have visited their old location , bringing staff for a spa day, and Sandra, Candi and Kayla got massages, but they were short a therapist, so I had my hair done instead. It was not a stellar experience, but it was not bad. Now, however, they have opened a new, much larger, and fancier facility on Nelson Road, not too far from the casinos and the larger shopping areas that are beginning to open up near the Nelson Road/210 Exit.
Their new facility is fancy schmancy. When entering, reception is on the right, and the salon is to the left. Lot’s of hairspray in the air! Reception was super friendly, and ushered us directly into the waiting area, offering us a drink, water, tea, etc. as we entered. I had brought a bottle of water, and
Candi declined. (She and my step-father had purchased me gift certificates for Christmas, and I had purchased one for her birthday. She had been there at Valentine’s Day with her BFF Jessie, and said that she received the best facial that she had ever experienced in her life, and an awesome massage and an out of this world pedicure! I was ready for me some of that!!)
The waiting area was pretty small, with 3 nice upholstered lounge chairs and a couple of regular chairs, and some treats and flavored water on the table. There was a small sink/mirror area, restrooms, and lockers. Other than the TV playing their commercial on the wall, there was not much else going on. It was very well decorated, and serene. We were there alone for about 3 minutes before a trail of other guests started to pile in. The first one was offered a mimosa . (!!! I should have said “what do you have” when offered that drink! lol) Candi was called back shortly thereafter, and I right behind her. We both just got facials on this visit, as we had other things to do in Lake Charles, and still get back home (an hour away) in time for the school bus.
I chose their Master Level esthetician, and Candi chose the regular one. I think there was about a $20 difference. My esthetician was very friendly and knowledgeable about skin types, and applied the appropriate products for my aging skin. My skin felt brighter and tighter when my service was done. The facial ended with a short neck and shoulder massage, which was a nice addition. Candi’s therapist worked a good while on her neck and shoulders, which had been bothering her, and she said it was very helpful, and she really enjoyed her facial.
We left Scarborough’s feeling pampered and refreshed, and are both hoping to receive gift certificates for a trip back in the near future! Scarborough’s is the premiere spa facility in the Lake Charles area.
#6 ~ The Wellness Center & Spa at Get Healthy, ~ Historic District, DeRidder, LA
I must start this one off with a disclaimer. I am affiliated with the Wellness Center & Spa, and I own Get Healthy. In my day job, I am a Traditional Naturopath, and I practice out of the Wellness Center & Spa. I am not, however, a massage therapist, and my affiliation is not why the Wellness Center & Spa are included in this list.
In small towns like DeRidder, it is easy for good massage therapists to become a legend in their own time, and the longest running therapist at the Wellness Center & Spa, Sandra Hamilton, LMT, is just that. She has helped more people (and relieved more pain) in her 7 years at the Wellness Center than most people help in their lives. She has been a life saver for me with issues that I have with my sciatic nerve.
While the Wellness Center and Spa certainly has a relaxing and inviting atmosphere, soft music and dim lights in the relaxation area are accompanied by a relaxation screen and spa style beverages, it is much more well known as a place of healing. Naturopathic services, top the list, but the Queen for the Day package is their claim to fame.
Queens are met with a robe and slippers, and given a tour of the facility and the equipment that is included in this $99 package. Hydromassage, Oxygen Therapy, Chi Therapy, Vibrational Therapy, Red-light Collagen Bed, and a Far-infrared sauna all await you, after a 1 hour relaxation massage. Alkaline water and herbal teas are freely available, and the half day package leaves your body invigorated, yet limber, and ready to finish off a healthy week.
Monthly equipment memberships are available, and appointments for massage are scheduled well in advance, but it is worth the wait.
#5 ~ Quapaw Baths & Spa ~ Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs, AR
Bathhouse Row is probably the most famous American mineral baths hot spot still existing today. Those “in the know” about the health benefits of the mineral waters still flock to the area today. Originally, there were five bathhouses, and one is now a museum, and one is now a brewery-using the famous waters to fortify their brews, and one is a Cultural Center. Two of the original bathhouses remain, the Quapaw, now a modern upscale spa, and the Buckstaff, which we will discuss next. (We stayed at the Embassy Suites. Very nice, safe, clean and affordable.)
The Quapaw is everything that you would expect a modern-day destination spa to be, with the added benefits of the mineral hyrotherapy. (You can find a complete review of my girl’s trip to Hot Springs with my cousin, Diane, here.)
We were checked in at the hostess station, and given the requisite intake forms, and shown to the changing areas to put on our robes. The relaxation area was huge, and windows along both exterior walls allowed a lot of light into the area. The furniture was nice and padded, but it was the wicker style that you would expect on a patio or lanai. The room was filled with greenery and plants and the upholstery was a happy yellow and green. It was different than most spa atmospheres, but fit well with the hydrotherapy that is the main focus of the area. The only downfall, to me, was that it was co-ed, and a couple of couples ewer there together. It felt awkward to me to be in a robe in front of men, but that was my own middle-aged modesty hangup. It did not seem as if it felt awkward to anyone else.
We were given a tour of the indoor pool area, and had we known in advance, we may have brought swimsuits to get to spend more time in the water. There were quite a few people there, children and adults, but it was not a rowdy “swimming pool” type of environment, it still had the feeling of being someplace special, and that appropriate indoor behavior was expected.
Shortly thereafter, Diane was called first, then I was met by my therapist shortly thereafter. We had purchased their Plum Special, which was to include a plum sugar scrub, massage, facial and mineral bath. They were out of the plum, but we were still given all of the services with other products. (Which was fine, we chose it because of the array of services, not because of the plum.)
My same therapist was with me throughout, and I was led down a long industrial feeling, very clean hallway to the last room on the right, a corner room. The room felt very sterile, and not as spa-like as I had expected, but it was still a wonderful experience. The lights were never dimmed, but I felt very pampered. (I wonder, after comparing it to the other remaining bathhouse, if this level of brightness, newness, cleanliness, and openness was a selling point, when compared to the older traditional bath, rather than trying to be more spa-like, and still keeping the bathhouse feel? Hmmm.)
My therapist was very gentle, yet professional, and the scrub was relaxing, and left my skin glowing. (I was worried whether the mineral bath would sting after the exfoliation, it did not.) The massage was very relaxing, no deep tissue at all, (yay!) and the facial was very thorough. (The way t hat I have always expected a facial to be. Not for relaxation, but to carefully look at and apply appropriate products to my skin.) After 90 minutes in the treatment room, my therapist left for me to get back into my robe, and then led me to the bath area.
Once again, I did not know what to expect, only having the Buckstaff (and Berkeley Springs State Park in WV) to compare it to. The Quapaw did not disappoint. We entered a very large tiled room with doors lining every wall. I was led into one of the rooms, and it actually had dimmed lights, a corner whirlpool tub, and felt rather luxurious. There were towels and amenities, and the therapist started the water, and had me check the temperature, which was perfect.
I questioned her about the water source, and the Quapaw pipes in the mineral water from the springs, then allows it to run through their modern fixtures, in just the same way that it would if it was from a municipal water supply.
I was left in the room to enjoy the bath, and advised that I would hear a knock on the door when my time was up, so not to worry about the time. I was in the bath area about a half an hour, and I did worry, of course, lol, so I was actually already out of the bath when my knock came. (That was on me.)
Both Diane and I left the Quapaw feeling energized, refreshed and pampered. It was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to visiting again.
#4 ~ Buckstaff Bathhouse ~ Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs, AR
The Buckstaff. Wow! What an experience. This is another one of those additions that are not a traditional spa experience in any way, but that, in my opinion is a “do not miss out” adventure.
I had no idea what to expect inside this traditional bathhouse, and to say that it was a culture shock would be an understatement. The closest that I had even come to researching a traditional bathhouse was in reading the history of the George Washington tub outside the bathhouse at Berkeley Springs State Park in WV. I had wanted to “partake” in the baths there so bad, but because of my fear of the unknown and the visual of communal baths, I dared not even peek inside. (What a timid dummy I can be sometimes. I plan to visit again one day, and I will take a dip in those mineral rich waters!) If you clicked on my link to my Hot Springs experience in the Quapaw review above, you know that I delved deep into my experience in that post. I am going to try to make this section short and sweet, but make sure that the experience is described authentically. Diane and I were greeted at the reception area of the Buckstaff, and swiftly escorted into a changing room and instructed to wrap ourselves with the white sheets provided. They were small dressing rooms with a pull-closed curtain, in a high school locker room style area. The tile floors were probably original to the building, if you know what I mean. They did not look dirty, nor did they look clean. Time-worn is a perfect description. They were as clean as they were ever going to be for a century or older building that had been frequented by soaking wet people from around the world all day, every day for decades. I imagine it to be like a fancy sanitarium like in the old movies, in it’s heyday. No that it was slow now, this place was hopping. You just go about your business, paying attention to yourself and your attendant, no time to pay attention to anything else.
This place was classic. I half expected to get fitted for a shock treatment device in the back room. I LOVED it. I was more comfortable at the Buckstaff than any other spa that I have ever attended. It was not pretentious, but it was stately. You are surrounded by history, and you know it. It was an amazing experience. I don’t remember if there were packages per say, but I think you can get the bathhouse experience with o r without a massage at the end. We chose with.
My biggest tip to share, is to leave your modesty at the door. There is no room for it here, and it is not needed. This place is all health-business, but somehow, at the same time, I felt like a little girl being cared for by my Mama.
My attendant showed me how to wrap my sheet to keep it from coming off or dragging the floor, then showed me to my tub (original to the building, I’m sure) she handed me my loofah, which would be mine to take home, and told me to undress and get in the tub. She started the water, one knob, perfect temperature, and walked out, pulling the curtain shut behind her. (Yes, the tubs, massages and sitz baths were behind pull curtains, too. The steam closet had a swinging door, but it was still weird, sitting there naked, head above the door, legs shining below, watching the other people be escorted from station to station.) I felt weird, not knowing how in the world I was supposed to cover my body in that tub, naked as a J-bird, waiting on her to return, which she did within a couple of minutes. She had me sit up and lean forward while she scrubbed my back and arms. (This did “hide” me some.) My legs were scrubbed, and I was handed a towel to dry off, and instructed to re-sheet myself and that she would meet me right outside the curtain. I did, she did.
We moved next to the sitz bath, then the steam closet, and I spent time soaking in each of those, before she led me to a large open room filled with massage-style tables. This was the relaxation room. Towels soaked in the warm mineral waters were wrapped around my arms and legs, and placed on my chest and forehead. A towel was then wrapped across my face, leaving only my nose exposed, and I was covered and left to relax for about 15 or 20 minutes. Again, I thought it would be awkward, but it was not.
After I was unwrapped, I was led to an area in the back that had small stalls, maybe 4′ X 6′, separated by curtains, and closed by curtains, for my massage. There were no sheets on the table or anything, but I can see what a mess that would be, had there been. I received a very therapeutic 30 minute massage. Nothing that is for relaxation, but to increase circulation, detoxification, and help the body to absorb the minerals that the water had provided.
As quickly as it all started, my time at the Buckstaff was over. It was mind-blowing. I honestly felt as if I walked out healthier just for having walked inside. Fabulous experience. I highly recommend the Buckstaff, and cannot wait until I can visit again.
#3 ~ The Woodlands Resort & Spa, The Woodlands, TX
This is the resort that the kids only think is for them! Just outside of Houston, TX, The Woodlands is a planned community of upscale shops, condos, homes and resorts.
I have been to numerous conferences in The Woodlands, and stayed at many different properties, but if you are there for leisure, golf, a couples, family or girl’s trip, The Woodland’s Resort & Spa can’t be surpassed.
After a day of boat touring, fine shopping and dinner, the resort offers movies on a huge screen from the pool. There are S’mores, face painting and slides for the kids, and it is a very comfortable and fun family destination.
Just off of the main lobby, however, is the secret destination that is the real treat of the resort for adults. The spa includes body treatments, as well as hair care, manicures and pedicures. After being greeted at the door, Candi and I were escorted to the changing room, then shown the waiting area. Soft music and lighting filled the tropically decorated, yet subdued walk-around seating lounge. The center of the lunge features a raised area that includes a large hot tub for use by the spa patrons. The water was nice, and the tub large enough to not feel awkward if another person or two joins you. It is comfortable enough in the lounge that you do not feel rushed before or after your treatments, to just enjoy some quiet time reading a magazine before returning to the outdoor festivities.
Candi and I each had one hour massages. We were escorted, by our therapists, from the lounge into our respective treatment rooms. The rooms were adequately sized, decorated in warm neutrals, and felt luxurious. Adulting at it’s best! I felt at ease from the moment I got onto the table, which is not always the case. I do believe the warm ambiance made a big difference there. Rather than feeling rushed, I actually may have fallen asleep, the massage was so relaxing. The therapist was skilled and gave a wonderfully relaxing massage, and the hour did not seem short or rushed, it was just perfect.
I highly recommend the spa at The Woodlands Resort and Spa for sneaking away to get some quality pampering time while the rest of the family enjoys the activities provided by the resort crew. We will visit again.
#2 ~ La Toretta Lake Resort & Spa, Montgomery, TX
We happened upon the La Toretta Lake Resort and Spa while planning a staff trip to Conroe, TX to visit their famous outlet mall. (To our surprise, after arrival, the outlet mall was all but deserted. Only two small stores remained, and all of the anchor stores had closed down. What was once a “school shopping” destination was no more.)
Montgomery, TX is just outside of Conroe, and the La Toretta more than made up f r our outlet shopping disappointment. This trip included Kayla, Anne, Mandi, Candi and me, and was intended to be a treat for the staff. (It was!) To our surprise, there was a car show on the second evening, and the show, Fast N’ Loud (Gas Monkey Garage), and it’s star, Richard Rawlings, were there filming. A couple of the girls were really excited and got pictures with him. That may have been the excitement of the trip for at least one of them!
The spa was a short walk down a concrete, flower-lined trail that led from the hotel, behind the convention building, and into a huge building of its own, tucked away in the back of the resort. We each had multiple services staggered throughout the morning of our second day, and into the early afternoon. The staff was large enough to be able to accommodate all of our chosen services. I wanted to try the Vichy Shower, but the equipment was not working, but the rest of the facility was fabulous.
The waiting area was multi-level, with little seating vignettes in several areas. The restroom and locker room was probably the finest that I have ever seen at any spa, and was huge. There were complete showers, fine toiletries, and everything that a person could need to leave the resort ready to go to dinner. It was spectacular.
Staff members greeted us with glasses of champagne with strawberries, and we were off to a wonderful girl’s day weekend. We each had a few minutes to relax (and refills) while we completed our intake forms and awaited our therapists, and we had relaxation time in-between services. Everyone chose different services. I chose a one hour massage, and a facial (and the cancelled Vichy Shower.)
The facility was very large, and the hallways seemed endless. We were led to our rooms by our therapists, and I had a wonderfully relaxing facial and a very therapeutic massage. Everyone raved about their therapists, and their services. I think it was the first time that our entire crew had received great services and spent so much time actually enjoying the spa atmosphere.
La Toretta Lake Resort & Spa is definitely on our “return visit” list!
#1 ~ Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa ~ Spa Django, Bastrop, TX
The Queen-Bee of all spa vacations. Our trip to Lost Pines and Spa Django was a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment trip that ended perfectly. Mandi, Candi and I (as well as Candi’s children) needed to make a quick trip to Austin, TX, and decided to make a long weekend out of it. We would be traveling through Bastrop, TX, and as I was looking for lodging, I saw the Hyatt Regency, and honestly, the lazy river is what sold me. The fact that there was a spa sealed the deal.
It was about a 6 hour drive for us, and we were so ready to be there, when we saw the sign for the Hyatt. We turned, and the Magical Kingdom seemed to appear. Perfect streets, lined with brightly colored blooms and perfectly coiffed trees stretched for what seemed like miles. We were in awe of the dang driveway, and had not even seen the place yet! Smart planning on their part, I think. We went from tired to excited. Happy, knowing that we were being led by the flowers to a place that just had to be something special. It did not disappoint.
Lost Pines was like a sprawling estate at the end of that drive. Like a perfect picture postcard with nothing out of place. No leaf left unturned. Nothing missed. Nothing. We checked in through the lodge area at the entrance, and found our room, which, surprise, surprise at this point…was perfect. Lush, full, tall beds that you just sink into. A glorious view out the back patio that somehow allowed us to see the forest, the children’s patio area, and an edge of the lazy river and pool area. It was quiet, lush and, without a doubt, the most comfortable room that I had ever been in.
Over the net couple of days, we enjoyed great food from the restaurants, swims and floats int he lazy river, and two days of visits to the spa. All of us, all at once, and that never happens! We even got to have an adult meal alone while the kids were attending a staff-led adventure of S’mores and stories out on the patio.
At the spa, we all chose one hour services for the first day, and enjoyed it so much that we each re-booked again for the next day!
The spa was a short walk from the main resort, down a peaceful path, of course, and had an entrance through the spa retail area. Spa staff actually met us at the door and opened the door for us to enter. The attention to detail and personal attention to guests is unsurpassed.
We were brought into the cozy waiting area, which overlooked the private pool area that was reserved for spa guests only. There was a private sauna, as well., which we really enjoyed.
My first day, I received a salt scrub and massage, and it was great. The salt mixture was warm, the ambiance was perfect, and there was a shower right in the massage room for me to rinse off afterward. I had never fallen asleep during a scrub before, but now I can’t say that anymore. I hope I did not snore, as she had to wake me up at the end! I have no idea how an exfoliation of my dry skin could be so relaxing. I slept like a baby! (I apologized for falling asleep, and she said it was a real complement to her!) She was the most talented skin care therapist that I had ever visited.
I don’t know how they find such great staff. Everyone seemed so genuine and kind. You can feel the difference, I think, when people really want you to enjoy your service and feel happy. They were all perfect.
The next day, I had a relaxation massage. The room was very small, and very dark, but I was so comfortable, it was one of the most relaxing massages that I have ever received. It was more like a Lomi-Lomi Hawaiian technique than a regular Swedish massage. Whatever school she was trained in really taught techniques that helped her to provide therapy in such a relaxing manner. It was pure bliss.
We hated to have to leave the resort the next day, and not one spa vacation has ever gone by that we don’t try to fit in a trip to Lost Pines and Spa Django. It remains on the top of our “will be back” list!
Bonus #11 ~ Spa Blu ~ Sam’s Town Casino, Shreveport, LA
I don’t know how I forgot about Spa Blu when first making this list, but human being that I occasionally admit to be, I did. Plain ‘ole forgot. I thought it only right to go back and include it here, and to include it as it came to me as an afterthought. Honesty is the bests policy, right?
Spa Blu should be far from an afterthought, though. If I was starting my list again, I would probably move it in around number three or four. It was that good. the forgetfulness that seems to plague me as my years go on is frustrating, but I hope to never let it stop me from doing what I live. (Sharing things with you, and traveling! Especially to spas!)
Mandi and I decided to take a Mother/Daughter weekend trip to Shreveport and visit Sam’s Town, and Spa Blu. It was such a wonderful weekend. I LOVE spending time with my adult children. I am so proud of the awesome people that they are, and honestly, they are just plain fun to be around!
We gambled a little, ate a little, and rested a little, just laughing and enjoying our stress-free weekend away, while we waited for our spa appointments, which were scheduled for mid-morning on Saturday. I wish we had known earlier, what to expect, when we entered Spa Blu, we would definitely have went in earlier!
We are checked in at the large, immaculate reception area, and escorted won the hallway to the dressing area for changing into our robes. The relaxation lounge was small and cozy, but h ad a perfect spa-like atmosphere. There was bottled water, spa water, tea, nuts, etc. for us to enjoy as we waited, along with magazines and soft lighting and music. The waiting areas were separated into men’s and women’s, and of course, we never saw the men’s area.
Just past the waiting room were the wet treatment rooms that all spa guests could enjoy, included in with their services. My appointment started first, so Mandi went into the sauna, and then the steam room, while she waited her turn. I was escorted about 10 minutes later to my treatment room by my massage therapist.
The treatment room was small and cozy. Not too small, honestly it was a perfect size, maybe 10′ X 12′? It was carpeted and decorated in warm neutral tones, and the same music that played int he relaxation room and hallways was playing in the massage room. It had a very nice and comfortable, warmed table, as well.
My therapist was very skilled, and I receive, definitely, a top 5 massage. The massage was relaxing, yet firm enough to feel therapeutic. She was an amazing therapist. My hour really seemed like an hour, if you know what I mean. Sometimes you feel rushed and that by the time the therapist gets “into the flow” and you can deeply relax into the massage, it is about to end. I was at ease from moment one, to the very last second. A wonderful experience.
After my massage, the therapist returned me to the waiting area, reminding me to drink plenty of water, to flush away any toxins that the massage may have brought forward. I relaxed for a moment, and drank a bottle of water, then stepped into the sauna. Oh, what Heaven! The scent of Eucalyptus that I have loved since my spa trip to Malta enveloped the air. The room was thick with steam, and the natural steam release was perfectly timed to refill the room as soon as the last release died down. I could feel the tension and stress of months of Type A-ing leaving my body.
When I was sufficiently drenched in steam, I exited and drank another cool bottle of water, before slipping into the large wooden sauna. I ladled some water onto the hot lava rocks, and took in the dry sauna scent that penetrated my nostrils as the steam from my body tightened my skin.
I was not in there very long before Mandi opened the door to join me. She was positively glowing, and said that her massage, too, had been perfect. We both wondered if she should enjoy a 2nd round of sauna and steam, and decided that 10 minutes of each would not hurt, as long as she stayed hydrated. We enjoyed the peacefulness of the sauna for a few more minutes before ducking into the steam room one last time, then showered off and headed back to our room for one of the best night’s sleep, ever!
So, there you have it. My Best Spas in the Deep South list. I hope you enjoyed it, and I would love to hear about your favorite spa destinations! Do you have a spa that you would like to recommend? -Terri